Thanks to a race date six weeks after the Ironman World Championship, Ironman Arizona will welcome one of the toughest pro fields of any Ironman this year.
Wearing No. 1 will be 2009 Ironman Arizona winner Jordan Rapp. Unlike many of his competitors, Rapp did not compete in Kona, but he will be racing on somewhat tired legs after earning a world title at the ITU Long Distance World Championships in Henderson, Nev., two weeks ago. Three of the freshest athletes will be Viktor Zyemtsev, Fraser Cartmell and Sebastian Kienle. Zyemtsev and Cartmell have both tasted Ironman victory in their careers, and Kienle is looking to close out a stellar year with his first. Two athletes looking to put Kona DNFs behind them are Eneko Llanos and Tim O’Donnell. The pair battled it out back in May at Ironman Texas, with Llanos coming out the victor. Another top contender is recently crowned Xterra World Champion Michael Weiss of Austria.
While the women’s lineup is not as deep as the men’s, it should be a very competitive race. Despite never winning an Ironman event, Great Britain’s Leanda Cave is the favorite. In the past six weeks Cave has finished third at the Ironman World Championship, first at Ironman 70.3 Miami and second at the ITU Long Distance World Championships. Cave raced a similar schedule leading up to last year’s Ironman Arizona event and finished third behind now four-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington of Great Britain and American Linsey Corbin. Although Wellington is not on the start list this year, Corbin is. The American will be looking to come back after a tough Kona race in which she finished 16th. Other top contenders include Americans Amanda Stevens, Kelly Williamson and Meredith Kessler, and Hungary’s Erika Csomor.